After nine games in the college football season, Iowa State sits at 85th nationally in total defense. Most Cyclone fans scoffed at the statistic due to how anemic the offense played in the games against Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. But now with the offense having two solid outings, it’s becoming evident that there’s more problems on the defense than we thought.
In the previous three games, Iowa State’s defense has given up over 400 yards just in pass defense. Yes, Baylor and Oklahoma State are two of the three top passing offenses in the country. But for a defense that’s been labeled as pretty good and it’s hard to rake in offensive numbers against them, it sure doesn’t feel that way when both Oklahoma schools are picking up seven yards a play on average.
Ever since the second half of the Kansas State game, it’s felt like the defense has worn down from the grind of the season. They did give up 455 total yards against TCU, but they also forced five turnovers. Now they can’t get anybody off the field on third down. Opponents are averaging 50 percent or better on third down conversions since facing the Wildcats in the second half.
If Iowa State fans believe the team can just coast to a bowl game with Kansas left on the schedule, all it takes is a couple of turnovers and anybody can beat them in the country if the defense continues to give up this much on defense. Steele Jantz actually played very well against a strong Oklahoma defense, and anyone could say the same about the Cyclones’ defense until 1:04 remaining in the first half. Giving up that touchdown essentially cost the team an upset bid. Once they continued to not get the Sooners off the field on third down, touchdowns were given up.
The loss of Jake Knott hurts but it’s no excuse that this defense can’t play better. All three teams remaining rank 99th or worse in total defense, good enough for Jantz and the offense to put the team in position to win out. If ISU continues to give up this many yards the road to a bowl game will be much tougher than both the players and the fans expect.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Clones Confidential. Keep up with the latest sports fails and disdain toward the Big Ten by following him on Twitter.